Asian Games crowds told to act ‘harmonious’

November 10, 2010

Civic officials in the Asian Games host city, Guangzhou, China are leaving little to chance when it comes to crowd behavior, encouraging its 10 million citizens in a barrage of brochures and text messages to act properly and in a “harmonious” fashion.

The last time China hosted a major multisports event – the 2008 Beijing Olympics – the crowds were well-behaved and cheerleading squads were created to help encourage some of the visiting athletes.

In a bid to ensure the spotlight remains positive, officials created a six-year program culminating in a handout of 1 million brochures and the sending of 40 million text messages to its citizens before the games start this week.

The two-week Asian Games, featuring 42 sports and more than 10,000 athletes, begin Saturday.

City officials began planning their education campaign shortly after winning the hosting rights in 2004, said Zhang Youquan, the deputy director-general for Guangzhou’s office of civility, at a news conference Tuesday.

Crowds at Chinese soccer matches can sometimes get unruly, not exactly the impression Asian Games organizers wanted to portray.

“At that time, we realized that the behavior of our citizens during the games could reflect the quality and image of the population,” Zhang said through an interpreter. “From then on, we have been trying to provide civic education and guidelines for spectator behavior.”

Those tips have included how to smile at spectators and competitors, learning some English expressions, sign language, “cheers for you” and a “gesture of the day.”